I use a USB audio DAC. I have now purchased two, and recommended the purchase of 4 more. I am EXTREMELY happy with the sound quality. It easily rivals good quality component CD players, and certainly kicks the crud out of your typical pc sound card.
I've used it under linux, and it just works.
here is the link. I have no experience with their optical version.
(No, I don't work for them, neither do any friends or family; I just think it's a really elegant product... no batteries, no moving parts, no blinking lights, no drivers... it just works)